Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Newest law professor arrives at U of L

When I started law school at U of L, one of the first things I noticed was the intellectual accomplishments of all the students around me. For perhaps the first time in my life, I was surrounded by 135 people on a daily basis who were at the top of their classes  in high school, college, even graduate school. Their backgrounds were equally impressive. Some came from overseas, or spoke multiple languages. Others had left promising careers to get a law degree. But if you think law students are smart, take a cruise through a few resumes for the school's faculty. A typical trajectory: top of the class at a prestigious law school, then a federal clerkship, then a few years at a top law firm, then a rigorous interview process in which they beat out several hundred (or more) other applicants for a teaching job. To be certain, all professors are not cut from the same cloth. And in a sign that is reassuring for the rest of us, there are plenty of terrific lawyers who were mediocre students in law school. Still, the professors here at U of L are an impressive group. The latest arrival, JoAnne Sweeny, is a good example. I have copied her bio below. 

JoAnne Sweeny comes to Louisville from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law where she was a Westerfield Fellow and taught legal research and writing as well as a seminar in comparative constitutional law. She also recently completed her PhD in law at Queen Mary, University of London. She graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Psychology and a B.A. in Criminology from the University of California at Irvine. After graduating Order of the Coif from the University of Southern California Law School, she clerked for the Honorable Ferdinand F. Fernandez at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Professor Sweeny then practiced as an employment litigator at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP before venturing further into academia. While at Queen Mary, Professor Sweeny taught British constitutional law and legal writing skills to first year law students.

Professor Sweeny
Professor Sweeny's research interests are wide-ranging but focus mainly on the problem of how law cannot keep up with technology or changing historical circumstances. Her current scholarly pursuits include international constitutional law, criminal law and legal history. Professor Sweeny is currently researching criminal law issues such potential constitutional challenges to the prosecution of teenagers under child pornography laws because they have "sexted" each other nude or erotic photos of themselves. Her most recent publication, "The United Kingdom's Human Rights Act: Using its Past to Predict its Future" is a comparative constitutional law piece that uses legal history techniques and social science theories such as Rational Choice Theory and Social Movement Theory to analyze the factors that led to the creation of the Human Rights Act in the UK and may also lead to its repeal in the near future. Her past articles have focused on emerging wage and hour problems that result from the practical problems of modern working situations, as well as the civil procedure issues inherent in the imposition of appellate sanctions for frivolous appeals. Professor Sweeny will begin teaching classes in the Fall 2011 semester.

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